Florence Hui: Maximizing AFC Efficiency

Talking with ACAMS Today about the increasingly complex anti-financial crime (AFC) field and the challenges in training AFC professionals is Florence Hui, senior manager, Anti-Financial Crime Solutions at ACAMS. Hui is responsible for developing AFC solutions for ACAMS enterprise clients.

Hui joined ACAMS in June 2022, bringing extensive experience in helping implement comprehensive financial crime controls at financial institutions. Her areas of expertise include know your customer (KYC) processes, customer due diligence processes, customer risk assessments, enhanced due diligence processes, screening, transaction monitoring, alert handling, submitting suspicious activity reports, conducting compliance testing and conducting anti-money laundering audits. Previously, Hui held various global and regional roles at Citibank and Barclays, as well as a senior management role at Ernst & Young in Asia–Pacific (APAC).

ACAMS Today (AT): What are AFC leaders/current clients saying about the challenges faced by their organizations?

FH: The top challenge is reducing costs. Leaders need to consider enhancing effectiveness under budget limitations, especially with the pace of technological development and the war on talent. It is challenging to recruit a multi-skilled labor force and keep them up-to-date. Employees and their knowledge are valuable to organizations. Leaders need to consider the budget allocation and face the challenge of striking a balance between investment in technology versus hiring staff.

AT: Can you share some examples of these challenges and their impact on organizations and their people?

FH: Many organizations have gone through the stages of adopting more technology to achieve efficiency and save costs. There is a perception that the application of technology would definitely bring efficiency improvement while cutting down costs. However, when adopting new technology in AFC compliance, you need experienced and skilled employees to review and ensure the system is running as expected without affecting the business outcome. After the successful deployment of the systems, employees will need to be upskilled to make sure they will be handling complex work that technology cannot support. The basics will be handled by technology. Without thinking through the complexity and identifying the significant impact on human resources, it will bring a more complex, messier situation to the organization.

AT: From your global experience in the AFC field, is artificial intelligence (AI) being adopted across the industry and could you give some examples of AI application in the AFC industry?

FH: Absolutely. The level of adoption of AI varies based on various factors. The world is inevitably adopting much more AI in our work and daily lives; therefore, upskilling and cross-training are important. Some organizations are already using AI and machine learning technologies to perform various routine tasks, such as KYC, screening alerts and transaction monitoring alerts filtering. While technologies help to perform time-consuming tasks, organizations can better allocate human resources to more complicated duties, such as quality assurance, investigations and high-risk client reviews.

AT: What is the importance of proper training and establishing career paths? Please talk about the growing importance of multi-skilled AFC teams.

FH: Based on my experience, training is a significant part of an organization but it is also easily missed or treated as a checklist. Training is no longer one and done, and organizations are not recruiting people who have done a one-off training. Proper training is about understanding your profession, continuing education, setting up an industry network and being flexible. You won’t be able to establish a clear career path and achieve your goal without these elements.

Understanding Your Profession: Do not expect your employees simply to follow the rules without thinking or to check off the box of a checklist in their day-to-day job. Understanding your profession can help staff members comprehend the relationship between the AFC controls and their actions. Without understanding why you need to do something, you may easily fall into traps and do things the wrong way.

Continuing Education: The world is evolving, and you should continue to gear up by keeping up-to-date with industry information. A staff member without continuing education will bring significant risk to the organization.

Setting Up an Industry Network: Criminals are always acting faster than legislation development. Through different types of appropriate training, employees are given chances to network with other industry experts and understand trends and typologies, which allows them to react faster and get prepared.

Flexibility: A proper training program should be flexible to match the needs of an organization and its employees.

AT: What is ACAMS doing to support organizations in retaining, developing and cross-training people?

FH: We understand the important role of training in supporting organizations in retaining, developing and cross-training people. Consequently, we set up the ACAMS AFC Academy. We mapped the roles and responsibilities of different job families across the three lines of defense and designed learning paths for industry practitioners at different levels to equip themselves. We understand that continuous learning and keeping up-to-date are valuable elements leading to success. The ACAMS AFC Academy is based on understanding the challenges of practitioners and providing the relevant training elements, including training courses, webinars and publications. Having the right training partners can help you maximize the efficiency of your AFC program.

As the global leader in AFC education, ACAMS has long been called upon to train and certify professionals at some of the world’s largest regulated organizations. Partner with us to build or enhance your training program with the AFC Academy. Schedule your free consultation at: www.acams.org/afcacademy.

Interviewed by: ACAMS Today editorial, ACAMS, editor@acams.org

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